SEPTEMBER 12, 1925 - NOVEMBER 2005

Yoshikazu “Joe” Tsukamoto, born in New Westminster BC in 1925, dedicated much of his life to agriculture. After the death of his mother at the age of six, his father moved the family back to Japan where Mr. Tsukamoto studied at the Nagahama Agricultural School. When Mr. Tsukamoto graduated at the age of 16 in 1941 his father sent him back to Canada to avoid the imminent conflict in the Pacific.

Luckily, Mr. Tsukamoto came to Canada on the last boat to leave Japan before the war began. He lived with his aunt and uncle in southern B.C., working on a fruit farm that they owned. Unfortunately, in 1942 Japanese Canadians were forcibly relocated, and Mr. Tsukamoto was sent to a sugar beet farm in Alberta. While interned in Alberta Mr. Tsukamoto commented that the internees replaced the machines on the farm to do the hard labour.

After his internment Mr. Tsukamoto continued to educate himself on agriculture first attending the Olds School of Agriculture and Home Economics and then moving his studies to McGill University where he earned a Bachelor of Science. Upon his graduation in 1954 Mr. Tsukamoto worked as a summer research assistant with Agriculture Canada before his career moved him up north.

In the Yukon Mr. Tsukamoto was the first northern agricultural research scientist. While working at the Whitehorse Experimental Farm he put his expertise in agronomy and horticulture to good use and researched and developed crops for a northern latitude. Mr. Tsukamoto worked at the Experimental Farm until the government shut it down in 1967. Despite the end of his work in the area, Mr. Tsukamoto is considered to be a pioneer of Yukon agriculture.

Mr. Tsukamoto moved to Manitoba after the closing of the Experimental Farm. There he worked for Manitoba Agriculture as a crops specialist where he promoted the production of special crops like sunflowers, fababeans, buckwheat and more. Many alternative crops were introduced to the Manitoba agricultural community as a result of Mr. Tsukamoto’s work.

Upon his retirement in 1991, Mr. Tsukamoto took on some fascinating work including working for the Bangladesh-Canada-Netherlands Crop Diversification Programme in Bangladesh where he tried to increase the production of crops that are high in protein. When he returned home to Canada he acted as a consultant to Japan on buckwheat production.

Prior to his death in 2005 he was honoured in many ways such as being made a Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada, he was given an Honorary Life Membership in the Manitoba and Canadian Seed Growers’ Associations, as well as the Outstanding Extension Award from the Canadian Society of Agronomy, and the Distinguished Agrologist Award from the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists. He was inducted into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame two years after his death.

Celebrating 150 Years of Canadian Agriculture